WISCONSIN – Supporting their Muslim friends, students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison put on hijabs for one day as part of Islam Appreciation Week, to normalize hijabs and address Islamophobia on campus.
“I got some looks,” Anna Ambros, a sophomore at UW, told The Badger Herald on Thursday, December 1.
“I’m sure they were wondering why I was wearing a hijab because I never had before. I’m not a Muslim.”
The event, hosted by the University of Wisconsin Muslim Student Association and Wisconsin Union Directorate Global Connection, aimed to normalize hijabs and address Islamophobia on campus.
Dubbed, “Hijabi for a Day,” the event started when women met in the morning to receive their headscarves and assigned a texting buddy, who wears a hijab on a day-to-day basis.
Farhat Bhuiyan, one of the organizers of the event, said one of the main goals is to normalize Muslim female practices.
She said hijabs do not always mean that a person is Muslim, they often do.
Throughout the day, Bhuiyan said she received both positive and negative feedback. She said that the negative feedback suggested it was cultural appropriation or offensive.
Bhuiyan said those who feel negatively might not understand the point of the event. She responded to every message she received during the day, trying to explain the organization’s goals.
At the end of the day, the women had an opportunity to reflect on the experiences and describe their feelings when wearing hijabs.
Ambros said she originally decided to participate to support Muslim women during the current climate.
Stepping into the shoes of her Muslim colleagues, Ambros said she wanted that dialogue to help educate others and break stereotypes.
She added that having these controversial conversations are really important to bridge gaps.
At the end of the day, Bhuiyan stressed that modesty is one of the main reasons why she wears a hijab, adding that it adds more confidence to her.
“The fact that it’s hidden — that means that it’s something worth being treasured,” Bhuiyan said.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.